Paonia wins Montrose Invitational team title

MONTROSE ­— Tyler Kendall didn’t expect to challenge for the Montrose Invitational tournament title.

The Paonia High School senior moved up a weight class this week after losing a wrestle-off to teammate Morgan Rieder.

Kendall defeated Berthoud’s Kagen Henning 11-7 on Saturday to win the 195-pound title in the Montrose Invitational at Lloyd McMillian Gym.

“I was hoping to place and do my best,” Kendall said. “I’m glad I did this well. I was hoping for third or fourth.”

Kendall, who weighed in at 185 pounds, moved up to 195 pounds after losing a wrestle-off with Rieder for the 182-pound spot last week.

“I was real happy with (Kendall),” Paonia coach Andy Pipher said. “He wrestled real good. He’s a real smart wrestler, and it paid off for him. He’s going to be just fine.”

Paonia continued to prove it’s a team to reckon with, winning the team title with 257 points. The Class 2A No. 1-ranked Eagles had five individual champions, and 13 wrestlers in the top four.

Palisade took second place with 180.5 points. Montrose was third with 142, Grand Junction fifth with 107.5 and Olathe sixth with 83.5.

Rieder (16-1) reached the 182-pound final but was pinned by Trenton Gustafson of Montezuma-Cortez in 44 seconds.

“Morgan went to the well too many times,” Pipher said. “Sometimes that’s what’s going to happen. He’s got a few things to work on. You can’t let them wrap you up too tight.”

Paonia sophomore Josh Altman won the 106-pound title, pinning Palisade’s Randon Espinoza in the final.

Altman won the Warrior Classic at 113 pounds but decided to try wrestling at 106 this week.

“The whole season I’ve been thinking about going down,” Altman said. “I knew after Christmas with the two pounds, I knew I was going to try to see how I felt. More than anything else, it’s a test run to see how my body felt to it.

“Right now, I’m leaning toward going back up to 13s. It was a pretty rough week.”

Montrose’s Marcus Velasquez (21-1) survived a tough 160-pound weight class that included the top two ranked wrestlers in Class 2A and a Cortez wrestler ranked sixth in the 170-pound weight class who moved down this week.

Velasquez defeated Seager Oliver of Cortez 6-4 in the final and received the upper weights outstanding wrestler award.

“Oliver is a tough kid,” Velasquez said. “You’ve got to wrestle them all.”

Velasquez has been on a mission since losing his first match of the season. He hasn’t lost since.

“There was a lot of emotion after that,” Velasquez said. “It was good for me because it was a reality check. This is my senior year, and I’ve got to do something about it.”

Olathe’s Trenton Piatt (21-0) kept his undefeated record intact with a 6-1 victory at 120 pounds over defending Class 2A state champion Jesse Reed in Reed’s first tournament back from an injury. Piatt received the lower weights outstanding wrestler.

Grand Junction’s Jacob Trujillo (22-0) captured the 145-pound title, but he had to earn a 9-7 decision over Berthoud’s Chad Ellis in the final.

Palisade’s Dalton Hannigan (17-3) outmuscled Paonia’s Bo Pipher for the 126-pound title. Hannigan won 8-0. It was Hannigan’s first Montrose title.

“I saw that I was seeded first and Bo was seeded second,” Hannigan said. “I wanted to wrestle him. I wanted to get a tough match because that makes you better.”

Palisade teammate Justin Ray followed Hannigan with a 4-3 victory over Olathe’s Jacob Solseth for the 132-pound title.

“Solseth is tough,” Ray said. “I didn’t wrestle really well. My head wasn’t really in it, and I didn’t have a game plan. Jacob outwrestled me, but I kind of got lucky.”


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